Over the past several years, the healthcare industry has seen a dramatic shift in the way healthcare is provided, tracked and measured. We've seen a move away from written charts to integrated technology solutions that capture patient health information over time. This shift has been, in large part, due to an increased focus on patient-centered care and a transformation of hospital and provider evaluation and reimbursement. Keeping pace with industries like banking, retail and food service, on-demand healthcare is gaining momentum, giving consumers the ability to schedule appointments, live-chat with providers and request prescription refills through mobile applications.
However, these technological advances open health systems to cyber-risk, making patient and hospital data more vulnerable to cyberhacks. With more than 16 healthcare data breaches1 reported across the United States in the last month, patients are becoming more concerned about their personal data. According to a recent online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix® College of Health Professions School of Health Services Administration, 72 percent of U.S. adults agreed with the statement, “I am concerned that my online healthcare records are vulnerable to hackers.” Moreover, more than half (59 percent)2 of U.S. adults responded that they are comfortable having healthcare records transmitted across networks.
Our nation's healthcare professionals need to be prepared to ensure the safety and security of patient data. Here are five tips for today's health industry professionals to help ease patients' concerns in this digital age:
- Use technology to enhance patient care. Technology has made medicine more efficient and trackable, thus, raising the bar for healthcare professionals to deliver quality care to their patients. These systems allow medical professionals to have health data at their fingertips, enabling them to better identify the right treatment solutions at the right time, for the right patient. Our ability to understand each individual patient and his or her unique needs is enhanced by technological advances, providing additional support to healthcare professionals in their medical decision making and service.
- Acknowledge the source of patient concerns. Patients are also consumers. They're facing data breaches and personal security hacks from national organizations across a wide range of industries on an ongoing basis. Our consumers are hyperaware of the sensitive information included in their health records; and while they want access to that information, they also want to ensure that the information is secure. It's important to listen to patient stories about their experiences with data security—whether that experience was in healthcare, or another industry like retail or banking—and reassure patients when they express concerns.
- Ensure that healthcare professionals have the necessary resources to be confident with health technology. According to the 2016 survey commissioned by University of Phoenix®, 68 percent of hospital administrative staff shared that technology skills are key to staying relevant in the healthcare industry.3 Hands-on training in healthcare technology, customer service and leadership skills are essential to the success of tomorrow's healthcare leaders, as well as the continued quality care patients receive today.
- Make transparency the norm. As the industry shifts to patient-centered care, the ability to maintain authentic, transparent and secure communication channels with patients becomes increasingly important. Healthcare leadership must develop the policies and systems that guide and facilitate their providers' use of their technology for improving patient outcomes. The University of Phoenix® Master of Health Administration was designed to develop the knowledge and skills that help healthcare professionals facilitate the policy and system changes necessary to create the opportunity for improve patient care.
- Invest in security measures. You pay for the level of data security you get: by coupling personnel training with high-quality software support, health systems are less susceptible to a data breach. It's our utmost responsibility to preserve our patients' trust and instill protocols and systems that can provide them with the highest standard of security and care.
The faculty at both University of Phoenix College of Health Professions and College of Information Systems and Technology are working together to make sure that the next generation of health and IT professionals are collaborating to advance the technologies and best practices vital to providing patients with the best possible care. We know that Americans deserve to be confident that their health data is safe, and our healthcare workforce must serve as the first line of defense.
- Survey of 2,069 U.S. adults ages 18 and older conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix from September 14-16, 2016. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, contact Becky Frost at [email protected]
- This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between June 23 and July 1, 2016. Respondents included 503 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, working full-time in healthcare as either a registered nurse or healthcare administrative staff for two years or more. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Becky Frost at [email protected]